by RENALDO DORSETT
Players and fans have been clamoring for it for years and now a new semi-professional league that will provide compensation for local basketball players is on the horizon.
The National Bahamas Basketball Association (NBBA) is set to launch its inaugural season this spring as it looks to enhance the development of the sport played at the local level.
Season one will feature four teams and games will be hosted May 5 – June 16 at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
League president Cordero Smith said the time has come for the top talent in the country to raise the standard.
“In The Bahamas, we have some of the most talented young relentless resilient players in the world that I know can compete on the professional. Locally we don’t have the platform to allow our players to do so. The time is now for us to create a league here. It’s been a long time coming and now it’s here,” he said, “Our Bahamian players will be proud to come back home to play in front of friends and families and be compensated for it. You’re home, you’re doing something you love and you’re being paid to do so.”
Original plans for the first season were preempted by the return of the Bahamas Games this summer, but Smith outlined the league’s short and long-term goals in terms of ownership.
“We wanted to begin with six teams but we had to convert to four under the circumstances. Eventually, we want businesses to own teams, but the league itself had to start out owning all the teams. We want the league to be a governing body over the teams – just like the NBA is. We have to keep things small and compact to build anticipation with the fans and players. We want the season to be longer, 3-4 months, and hope to expand to more teams and players. We want this to be something that is lasting for many years and seasons to come.”
The league will use a draft system to assign players to teams and create competitive balance. Team names, coaching staff, and salary scales will be released at a later date.
“We expect it to be a professional level of play. We want the guys who played around the globe, who played in college, who have been playing organized basketball. We also have local guys that can compete at a professional level,” Smith said, “People are still new to the idea, we want them to get accustomed to it. Players and coaches will be paid on a two-week basis. We will have a draft day, take a look at people’s skills and have a pool of draftable players available to all teams. We want a competitive league and we want the league to be balanced.”
In addition to NBBA play on the court, Smith said the league will also serve as a feeder system for junior basketball development.
“The league will have training camps for younger players so they can improve as years go on and we can create a feeder system and they can transition to the league. We have to groom the younger ones to be able to take over and be the successors, we will have training camps, and mentorship programs to guide young ones and they stay on the path toward professional basketball – wherever that may be. We want to be there to help them toward that dream.”